Archives for August 2007

Pregnancy & the futility of anxiety

Thinking, planning, and dreaming about your unborn child is part of pregnancy, and for most people, includes a bit of anxiety. A lurking fear that the baby will not be healthy is common, but even more so for Lisa Martin, who’s first baby was born with Autism, and who was 36 when she became pregnant for the second time.

“My second pregnancy – so unexpected, so intensely emotional – was terrifying in ways I could never have imagined.” And when little Chip was born, a beautiful, healthy baby, the feeling of everyone involved was incredible relief.

How does Lisa feel about this experience? She has taken a lesson for life that she carries with her all the time. “Those nine months of unrelenting worry, to this day, remind me of the futility of anxiety,” she writes. The realization that she spent so much time and energy in futile worrying helps her stay calm when problems arise. She has become a better friend, kinder, and more empathetic. And she can put things into perspective.

Of course, worrying is normal. “Like it or not, a certain amount of anxiety signals your induction into the Mommy Club.” The worry doesn’t stop with the birth of a healthy baby, you just find different things to worry about. But the lesson Lisa wants to share is not to let anxiety debilitate you, to live in the moment, and be optimistic. Life throws you curves but also gives you the strength to handle them. As her pediatrician told her, “We all have something to deal with and so will he, even if it’s not autism. And that’s OK.”

Prenatal Blues: When to see a therapist

You might be surprised at how many expecting women might call themselves “depressed.” Whether it’s due to the hormones, the many changes your body is undergoing, etc, many women find pregnancy to be hard physically and emotionally. So what are just “normal” mood swings, and what warrents an appointment with a therapist?

Ask Moxie answers this question with good old common sense. She’s not a proffesional, just a mom like you who gives good advice. She says that if you are thinking about seeing a therapist, that probably means you could benefit by it. It doesn’t mean you have a problem, it just means you need someone objective to talk to and help sort yourself out. You don’t need to make a comitment, just one or two visits can make you feel so much better.  She took her own advice and saw a therapist a few times, which “was all it took to get me to a better place so I could get through the rest of the pregnancy… And deciding to see the therapist was a big step in deciding to take myself and my own feelings seriously for a change. That was a big thing for me.”

Read more personal experiences with depression under the comments section.

Pregnancy, Pioneer Style

I think this blog just may have the most comments ever written on a pregnancy entry.

Maybe it’s the humor. Maybe it’s the pictures. But it’s pretty funny, considering just who the pregnant gals are…

Educational videos: not so smart?

Researchers recently found that educational videos, like the Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby series, may actually hinder kids’ development. The babies who watched an hour or more of TV a day knew fewer words than babies who never watched the videos. So, is TV really bad for little ones? Key in on the debate and add your own opinion!

Pregnancy symptoms you never heard of

We all do pregnancy differently, but did your early pregnancy symptoms include a migrane and the need to dye your hair? Here’s a light read detailing one woman’s discovery that she was, indeed, pregnant!

Liz Lange on Looking Good During Pregnancy (Even when you feel awful)

You may feel like a huge, lethargic couch potato, or you may be hanging over the toilet bowl every morning, but when you look in the mirror you still want to feel good about yourself!

Liz Lange gives us some tips on how you look and feel good throught your pregnancy.

1.  Dress
“The best thing to do on the days you feel enormous is to actually show off your pregnancy.”

Liz strongly urges all expecting mothers to find maternity clothing that fits them properly. Just as in your non-pregnancy life, clothing that is too tight or too loose can make you look and feel larger. Another quick fix for when you are feeling down about your new size? Try what Liz calls “dipping,” which is dressing from top to bottom in one color such as black or dark brown.

 2.  Beauty
“Nothing wakes up your look like mascara, even if you can’t stand makeup, invest in a good black mascara to instantly revive your appearance. It’s like a cup of coffee for tired eyes.”

Liz also suggests treating yourself to a facial every few weeks to really let the glow of maternity shine through. Even if you have never had a facial before in your life, starting during pregnancy is a wise time as many women undergo dramatic complexion changes and need to be re-educated on how to care for their new skin.

 3.  Exercise
“You’re first impulse might be to veg out in front of the TV when you feel crummy, but you should do just the opposite. Don’t worry, you don’t need to run a marathon, but just a simple walk around the block will get your heart pumping and jumpstart your spirits.”

Liz also recommends that women try to schedule some moderate exercise at least 2-3 times a week during their pregnancy. It aids in circulation and strengthens the body for labor. Liz always suggests consulting a doctor before starting any exercise routine, however.

Cultural Misconceptions of Western Baby Care

This rant is directed toward the American (ie Western) misconceptions and judgements about how a baby should be handled, when it should be fed, put to sleep, held, etc. My head began turning when a good friend of mine stated, “When a kid is old enough to ask for it, it’s time to stop nursing!” My daughter is almost 2, can say “Mo milties!!” (more milkies!) and is still nursing once or twice a day.

 Now I am not advocating nursing until your kid is 3 or 5 or 8. But a nursing toddler is nothing strange, unless you’ve been brought up in a society that thinks it’s strange.

I would like to point out that nursing a 2-year old is perfectly normal in many non-Westernized societies. People need to realize that different countries have different ideas of what is normal. For example (gotta love google) in Zimbabwe nursing is so accepted that no one bats an eyelash at woman nursing on line at the post office. In Pakistan a mixture of herbs is given to a baby for the first few days of life, while in Africa they are fed boiled water with butter. In East Africa practically all women breastfeed in public, until their children are 2 or 3 years old. In Japan in its believed that in order to produce enough milk, you need breast massage. (“Ewww, get your hands off my boob!!”) It all depends on what your society tells you is normal.

Even in American, things are slooowly progressing. Or should I say regressing? Did you know that in the 1950’s doctors used to advise pregnant women to smoke, so that they’d have smaller babies which would be easier to deliver? Most of our parents’ generation were bottle-fed right from the start, because 40 years ago, formula was considered superior to breast-milk. Only about 10 years ago did Americans as a whole start becoming aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, and more accepting of it. Even today, less than half the babies born in the US are breastfed for more than 3 months (even though doctors say it’s best to breastfeed exclusively the first 6 months).

There’s plenty of scientific evidence that nursing toddlers benefit nutritionally, are healthier, have fewer allergies, are socially well adjusted, and is also good for the mother: reduces chances of some cancers, osteoporosis, and other good benefits (like keeping you lean & mean).

It’s all about society and what you’re used to. If it was normal to see 2-yr old kids still nursing, you wouldn’t give it a second though. Now… don’t get me started on this American habit of letting babies cry by themselves, sleep training, and things of that sort!! (OK too late.) The Western mentality is totally self-centered, so parents are told to put their own needs first (IE: I need to sleep through the night, I need to have more freedom, I don’t feel like running to pick her up the moment she cries, I’m busy now…), often ignoring the needs of their children. Also, Americans place high value on “independence” and apply those ideals even to small babies (why does she need to be held all the time? Why can’t she amuse herself? Why can’t she sleep in her own crib? Why can I never leave her alone for a second?) Well, baby’s needs are quite different that what American society would like to mold them into being… I think that when a mother is really in tune with herself and her baby, she realizes that babies need lots and lots of attention, love, physical closeness to their mothers (yes, even at night when they’re sleeping), and their small tummies fed “on demand”, not on mom’s schedule of convenience. The concept of “mothering” is not given much respect, so that if a woman spends all day taking care of her baby, she herself tends to feel unproductive and unsatisfied. I still have plenty of those days, when it seems all I do is run after Esther, try to get her to eat, get dressed, take a nap, go to the park… It’s frightfully boring sometimes, and I’d rather be doing more “important” things (working, painting, shopping, tanning) but what could really be more important than a happy kid who gets lots of love and attention from her mother?

Ok I’m done ranting. Feel free to disagree, if you dare.

Weight loss after Pregnancy: Is the celebrety way OK?

People Magazine loudly proclaims: “Talk about camera ready! A mere nine weeks after giving birth to daughter Ashby Grace, Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell has lost 24 of her 30 lbs. of pregnancy weight.”  They even have a photo of Mrs. O’Dell looking lean and lovely, with her new baby girl.

O’Dell credits her quick shedding of pounds to breastfeeding, and to the fact that it’s “easy to say no to pizza” because she wants to eat healthy for her daughter. She also started working with a trainer 4 weeks after giving birth, and does ballet and dance movements three times a week.

If news like this has you in tears, wondering why you are having such a struggle getting back into shape (and into an excersize routine), don’t feel badly! Ann Collins has reassuring news about loosing weight after pregnancy: “Celebrities who give birth are surrounded by dietitians, nurses and fitness experts. Plus, they often have major commercial commitments to safeguard. So for these new moms, losing weight after pregnancy is often accomplished must faster than for more average women. They are not a good example upon which to base your own postpartum weight loss goals.”

Some health experts will quote the pregnancy weight mantra: “nine months on, nine months off.”  Although you can accomplish this in less than nine months, what this means that it takes time for your body to recover from pregnancy, and you need to be gentle on yourself and not expect instant results.

For the first few months after your give birth, focus on regaining your strength, not losing weight! You should be consuming enough calories to keep up your energy and take care of your baby. You should definitely focus on eating heathly, but don’t cut calories. Your body is recovering from the physical strain of childbirth, and all the demands that a new baby makes (sleep deprivation, endless pacing and rocking, etc). Plus, your body needs adequate food (about 500 extra calories) to produce milk!

Instead of dieting and cutting calories, focus on excercize, once you feel up to it. Excersizing too vigorously, too soon, can also be damaging to your body. Brisk walking and moderate weight lifting may be a good place to start. Check with your doctor before you begin a new excercize routine.

iVillage Parenting cautions, “It is not safe or healthy to lose weight rapidly, especially while nursing. You do not want to risk a reduced milk production or a depletion of your bone and muscle tissue for the sake of getting back to your prepregnancy weight.” Science Daily says, “Returning to body weight gradually after giving birth seems to be important, because women who regain their pre-pregnancy weight within six months have a lower risk of being overweight ten years later.”

So take it slowly and give your body time to adjust naturally. You may find after a few months that the pounds seem to drop off without any effort at all!  Breastfeeding, aside from all the other benefits, does help some women loose weight without even trying. Whether or not that happens to you, try to focus on being a healthy, nurturing mother to your new baby. Even if you never quite reach that target goal, a few extra pounds is well worth the joy that a newborn baby brings!

Beware of Junk Food

Some mothers notice that their babies enjoy foods they themeselves enjoyed (or ate a lot of) while pregnant. On the flip side, if there was something mommy could not tolerate during pregnancy, sometimes baby won’t touch it either!

Seems there is a scientific basis for this interesting trend. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that rats fed junk food during pregnancy and lactation gave birth to offspring that preferred these types of foods.

This could be why certain people crave sweets and junk food, even when offered healthier choices. In light of the growing obesity crises, this could shed light on how mom’s can protect their children… even before they are born!  If you try to cut back on high-fat, high-sugar foods during pregnancy and lactation, you may be giving your child a head-start in leading a healthy, nutritious lifestyle!

Source: Food&Drink

Smoking and Pregnancy

Most people know that smoking is harmful to a growing fetus.  But unless you know exactly what could go wrong, it may be difficult to give up this addiction. Currently, 13% of American women smoke while pregnant.  According to the U.S. Public Health Service, there would be an estimated 10 percent reduction in infant deaths in this country if all pregnant women were to stop smoking! Here are some things you should know about smoking during pregnancy:

  • Smoking makes it harder to conceive. Smokers (both men and women) have lower fertility rates. Also, a child born to a mother who smoked is more likely to have trouble becoming pregnant in the future.
  • Smoke carries toxins through the umbilical cord and to the fetus. Smoking also replaces the oxygen a baby should be receiving with cabon monoxide. This can damage the placental function, and cause fetal heartbeat to rise.
  • Smoking while pregnant increases the risk of miscarriage and stillborn babies.
  • Babies of smoking mothers are more likey to be born premature and with low birth weight.  They have smaller organs and poorer lung function.
  • Babies of smoking mothers get sick and need to be hospitalized more often. Problems includes respitory illness, asthma, and pneumonia.
  • They are also more likey to die of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • These babies have up to 30% more chance of being born with limb defects, such as extra or missing fingers or toes. Risks of cleft lip and palette have also been linked to mothers who smoke.
  • Smoking increases the risk of a baby born with cerebral palsey and interferes with brain development.

If you are pregnant and still smoking, it is not too late! Every unsmoked cigarette will add to your babies chances of being born healthy. “Much of the damage caused by smoking can be reversed because your body is a living organism that has the ability to heal itself,” according to NetDoctor. Even moderate cigarette smoking is harmful to your baby, so the most important thing you can do is stop immediately and seek help. Don’t be embarrassed to let your doctor know you are having trouble quitting. He may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.

Your baby can also be harmed by people smoking around you, so it’s important for your partner to quit, or at least stay well away while smoking. You should continue to maintain a smoke-free environment during your child’s developing years.

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